I have to come clean - this is a recipe I whizzed up for the family rather than for myself! Honestly, those stodgy, heavier desserts are not my favourite, but my daughters absolutely rave about rice pudding. They would always pester me to buy those premade tins of rice pudding at the supermarket. Since I know they’re not too healthy, I reluctantly decided to come up with my own recipe! This isn’t a baked rice pudding recipe, which has that controversial skin on top that so splits opinion (I am against it! But I know that’s some people’s favourite part)! But a nice, soft and creamy stove-top vegan rice pudding. That’s right - vegan! But I promise, you won’t even notice the absence of dairy… If your kids love rice pudding too, they won’t be let down by this alternative - don’t worry, it doesn’t taste ‘healthy’! Being a vegan option too, it’s a great one to have up your sleeve - and it also works with other plant milks, as long as they’re nice and rich. Why not experiment with a coconut milk rice pudding, or hazelnut milk, for example? I particularly enjoy that slightly nutty taste that a nut milk adds, and a non-dairy rice pudding still feels just as luxurious as a full-fat cow’s milk option.
This recipe was cooked for us by some dear friends from Rhodes, when they visited us right before COVID kicked off and changed our lives! As a chef and his partner, they fed us a selection of tasty treats during their stay - but this was our ultimate favourite, and one I just had to ask them for the recipe for. They are very generous, and shared the recipe with us in a heartbeat. My thanks to them, always! Lasagna (or Lasagne is correct, I think, in the UK and Europe) is heart-warming comfort food at the best of times. But this veggie-based spinach lasagna recipe, using the iron-packed and healthy spinach in place of mince, and the addition of that mouth-watering lime, makes this dish a whole different ball game! You still have that ultimate comfort dish - but with a twist. You know you’ve knocked it out of the park when the whole table goes quiet after that first mouthful, silently savouring the wonderful flavour explosion happening in their mouths! A healthy spinach lasagna is great to have in your repertoire as a veggie - but this lime-infused one is all the more special. We didn’t even have the fooodlove site back when they made this recipe for us - but it’s the best spinach lasagne recipe I’ve ever tried, and one I simply HAD to share with you guys onsite! I hope you adore it as much as we do.
I remember enjoying this at home in Rhodes through the summer as a child - with freshly-picked green beans from the garden, and even freshly picked tomatoes too! This stewed green beans dish (or Fasolakia Giaxni in Greek) is more than the sum of its parts, and is well worth incorporating into your recipe repertoire. The great news is that beans are now available all year round, frozen! And because tinned tomatoes are a perfect substitute for fresh ones here, this has really turned into almost a store cupboard dish, which I can conjure up whatever the season, whatever the weather. It can be grat to know you’ve got a veggie ‘store cupboard’ side, for when I’m due to go shopping and we’re almost out of fresh veggies. Fasolakia Ladera, or Green beans with oil, and the addition of tomatoes and herbs, makes simple freezer ingredients shine. This is one of those great vegetarian sides; it’s so complex in flavour despite the simplicity of making it. Green beans in tomato sauce is one to cook up as a side to accompany a special evening meal (or indeed, lunch in the sun, should you be so lucky!). Some pair the dish with beef, which is good for meat eaters, but I really don’t think it misses much through the absence of the meat here. Good quality olive oil is important too, as is the finely chopped sprinkle of herbs at the end - this really elevates all the flavours and melds them together perfectly.
Lent is traditionally a fasting period in Greece, where the Greek Orthodox church still has a lot of power over the country’s traditions. From Shrove Tuesday to Easter Sunday we traditionally wouldn’t eat dairy, as well as abstaining from meat and fish (but not shellfish). But that doesn’t mean no enjoyable meals! No, in fact a whole Greek cuisine has sprung up around the culture of fasting - Greek fasting food is called Ladera, or Lathera - food that is full of veggie and made with olive oil, containing no meat or dairy products. This is the healthy heart of the Mediterranean diet (although this recipe doesn’t necessarily uphold this principle!) This Greek semolina cake recipe is unusual, but very authentic and moreish - I definitely urge you to try it. So plenty of dairy-free cakes have sprung up over the centuries to ensure Lenten fasting is still a seasonal celebration. This semolina halva recipe is one of my favourite desserts, whenever I eat it, and it is dairy-free, egg-free and butter-free. Turns out a Greek halva dessert ticks all the boxes as a perfect recipe to have up your sleeve for any fasting or vegan visitors (and is completely glorious for anyone not sticking to any dietary exclusions, too)!
The Peinirli is a real favourite in our household. These are traditional Greek pizzas, shaped like little pizza boats. Slightly smaller than a regular Italian pizza, they’re perfect as a treat for one. They can carry all sorts of toppings, so are a favourite for all the various taste preferences in our family. It’s super-easy to rustle up a veggie option for me too, which makes life easier! Having to bake a meat-eaters meal and a veggie-friendly meal on top can sometimes just feel like a step too far! The peinirli origin story comes originally from Turkey. Turkish ‘pide’ are the same boat-shaped pizzas, and the Greek name ‘peinirli’ came from the Turkish word for cheese - ‘peinir’. Peinirli usually feature a basic cheese filling, to which you can add whatever you fancy - be that tomato, olive, onion, egg, spinach, ham or bacon…the options are about as endless as you can imagine toppings for an Italian pizza! When we return to Greece, Peinirli is one of our favourite bakery options (we mention it in our blog on the 7 must-eat Greek bakery bites). The kids (well, to be honest, my husband and I too, I suppose!) are often tempted to enjoy a Greek peinirli for our breakfast - it’s a popular choice!
Why buy veggie burgers, with great lists of unknown ingredients, when making your own is so simple? That’s what I think anyway, since I tapped into this particular recipe. For me, an easy veggie burger has to provide a challenge to its meaty alternative, but I don’t want it to mimic beef, I want it to be different. This meatless burger will convert a few meat eaters at your barbecue - not because it ‘tastes like meat’ but because it’s a really tasty alternative, full of flavour. This is not just for barbecues, however. We end up having vegetarian patties as a midweek meal pretty often, because it’s not complicated and veggie burger patties always seem to go down well with the whole family. Because I use a combination of couscous and chickpeas instead of something like potato to bind the burger, the burger already contains a great amount of protein from the legumes, as well as carbs (and texture) from the couscous. Add to that the peas, corn, carrot and spring onion, and you basically have all the nutrition you need! For a light dinner, serve them up alone with a side salad or some fresh veg, or for something heartier add your burger to your favourite bread roll…we’ve even been known to accompany them with our oven-baked potatoes or oven-roasted chips!
What’s a Greek carrot cake, I hear you ask? Well, for me, all things Greek use Greek yoghurt wherever possible! So yes, this is a carrot cake without cream cheese -I substitute in that tart, rich tang of Greek yoghurt instead, to make for a slightly healthy carrot cake, as well as a yummy one. That tart, sweet tang is literally ‘the icing on the cake’ when it comes to carrot cake - that vegetable, spiced moist batter is just complemented so perfectly by a tangy sweet frosting. Carrot cake might just be my favourite cake - and that’s saying something! Being wholemeal flour, as well as containing carrots, raisins, and walnuts as well as eggs and plenty of spices, I can convince myself that this indulgent treat is at least doing me a little bit more good than a decadent fudge cake, for example. Yoghurt icing for carrot cake isn’t completely pioneering - it really does mimic that slightly sour-sweet tang that cream cheese frosting delivers, but with the added goodness of Greek yoghurt. A creamy Greek yoghurt frosting is just as easy to make as a cream cheese one, and we are always more likely to have Greek yoghurt in the fridge - so it just makes this cake a real easy store cupboard bake for our household.
Sometimes indulgence is the only way forward, and this carb fest is a real treat! Makaronopita, or Greek pasta pie, uses indulgent pastry, pasta, evaporated milk and feta cheese to ensure no stone is left unturned on your journey to the ultimate in comfort food! You can use any type of pasta with this really, but the ones that work best are the small tubes called pasta for pastichio, or pastitsio, in Greek. It’s almost like a hollow spaghetti. But bucatini, macaroni, gomitini, or maybe a small rigatoni at a push, will work too! Using spaghetti emulates the longer strands but without that hollow centre, so makes for a Greek spaghetti pie would be much denser. The idea is to keep the pie full of air with the tubes, but also rich with that baked cheesy sauce. Makaronopita with filo on top is the ultimate in texture contrast too, as the soft pasta contrasts so well with the crunch of the crisp filo. That’s why I suggest cutting your pie into portion sizes before you bake it - otherwise you’ll shatter the filo when you try to serve it, and there’s nothing nicer than breaking that crisp top yourself! Serve up this Greek pasta bake with a nicely dressed side salad for a lunch or dinner (I love it with a zingy lemon dressing), or help yourself to an indulgent slice when those hunger pangs hit, mid-afternoon! This is cold weather comfort food, at its best.
These healthy blueberry muffins are a must for my daughters’ packed lunch boxes, or for those rumbling tummies at around 4 pm when dinner still feels far off. The wholegrain flour and oats make them more sustaining and low GI compared to white flour-based cakes, so your blood glucose levels don’t crash and burn like after a quick sugary snack. You can even substitute the quick oats for steel-rolled oats for even better slow energy release, but the texture is a little chewier - try half and half to begin with to make sure you like the substitution! These wholewheat berry muffins also work as healthy muffins for breakfast. We’re constantly running out of time in the mornings, and so I do like to have something on hand to push into a Tupperware for myself for later, or to give my daughters as they rush out of the door. This way I can make sure they’ll be eating something with slow energy release, protein, and even some fruit in it. Sure, these are cakes - there’s no avoiding that - but I feel much happier giving them these than the processed, sugar-filled breakfast ‘cereal bars’ that are another popular option. They’re also great to sub-in for a refined sugar sweet treat, as the aforementioned wholegrain content (the oats and the wholewheat flour) work together to make sure this sweet treat is sustaining as well as satisfying for that sugar craving. Give them a go - they might become your new favourite!
As you may know by now, I’m a veggie - but the rest of my family aren’t! Although they’re happy to eat tasty veggie meals a lot of the time, they sometimes ask for meat. So when they have a craving for meat-based products, I find chorizo an easy addition - it’s something I can have in the fridge and its flavour packs a punch. A little goes a long way, I find. These mozzarella and chorizo peppers are great quick and easy snacks to make with that bag of mozzarella cheese that you have in the fridge, and work well to ease those afternoon hunger pangs - what’s better for a meat eater than a mozzarella chorizo snack, after all? They’re pretty healthy too, so they’re a snack I’m happy to dole out to my daughters when they’re hungry after school. Because there’s the bell pepper and the tomato sauce it means they’re getting two portions of veg, and I often serve them up with an accompanying side salad for a light lunch or dinner, too - the pizza-like taste of the peppers means everyone’s happy to nibble up some accompanying greens without complaint! For a veggie version, I do mozzarella peppers for myself - still scrumptious. If you’re avoiding the chorizo, like me, or just fancy playing with the recipe, why not add a shake of paprika to the mozzarella for smokiness, or simply add a couple of basil leaves for that Mediterranean summertime taste?
This recipe is the perfect antidote to the January blues. Full of veggie goodness, as well as the anti-inflammatory powers of turmeric, garlic, leeks and onions, it has the heartiness of lentils and that edge of warmth, from the chilli, which come together to create a ‘hug in a mug’, as the famous soup advert once said! This sort of recipe is perfect in a thermos flask to accompany you on a chilly walk, or in your kids’ pack ups - you can be sure they’re getting at least 3 or so of their ‘5 a day’ target, and will be satiated for the rest of the day with the slow, constant stream of energy released by the lentils. It’s a recipe I often turn to as a midweek dinner through January, too - served alone, or with a hunk of bread and a piece of cheese, this recipe is everything I feel like I need to warm the soul after a grey, drizzly, dark day! It’s quick to create - it really only takes a little bit of chopping - and is so worth every moment you spend on it. For a different, smooth texture, try blending all of the soup, or blend none of it and eat it more as a lentil stew. We prefer this half-and-half mixture, which creates a chunky soup. The choice is yours.
These spinach and feta galettes are a mouthwatering veggie breakfast, or lunch, to satisfy and satiate. They work year-round, too. In the summertime, send your kids off with a healthy last-minute breakfast to eat on the school bus, pack them up for a picnic in the park, or serve as part of a dinner al fresco. Stick them in your kids’ (or your own) packed lunch to break up the monotony of sandwiches and wraps. In the winter? For me, the winter is a time when I cannot handle a cold salad for lunch, but I don’t always fancy a soup, or a big meal. Ditto for breakfast - something slightly warmed through made from buttery pastry ticks all my boxes! These galettes are the perfect light lunch, served warm with a fresh green side salad and a few juicy cherry tomatoes. Who am I kidding, any savoury pastry tarts are a go-to for me through those chilly months! The cheesy, buttery savouriness of flaking pastry and salty cheese complements the iron green tang of the spinach perfectly. These pastry morsels feel indulgent and satisfying, but allow you to feel slightly healthy at the same time. Those two things together? That equates to my favourite type of meal!
This Mediterranean-style Shakshuka was actually thought out by my husband! He is not often found cooking, but he hit on a real win with this simple Shakshuka recipe when I was too tired and busy to cook one day, back in Rhodes. We call it Greek Shakshuka; I don’t think that’s a real thing, but he took the shakshuka ingredients and added Greek staples so that’s what it became! What is Shakshuka? Shakshuka is a popular dish originating from North Africa, which has been popular with the Israeli community and Jewish diaspora, bringing it to brunch menus across the globe over the past decade or so. Broadly, Shakshuka consists of eggs poached in a tomato sauce, with vegetables, herbs and spices. We love our roster of Mediterranean egg recipes, so we had to somehow work this popular North African dish into the Mediterranean canon! To do this we keep it simple - tomatoes, feta and egg are the primary tastes here. This is perfect for a light lunch or supper with a side salad, this is, however, a go-to brunch dish, served with a side of toast. It’s a flexible recipe, too, so if you want to add a few herbs and spices, and even extra veg, be my guest. This is our recipe - feel free to tweak it until you have your own! We have this at least once a month for a comforting, sustaining and satisfying brunch.
Wondering what Greek side dish will best accompany your Greek recipe? fooodlove shows the top 5
Find out how veggie/pescatarian fooodlove cooks meat-based meals for her Greek family day-to-day, living in the UK!
This recipe for baked giant beans, or Gigantes Plaki in Greek, is a really flexible, useful one to have in your recipe bank! Gigantes are a really large variety of beans, known also as Butter Beans or Lima Beans. We buy them dried and soak them; these are my favourite to use in terms of flavour. Gigantes are a healthy addition to any diet, vegan, veggie or omnivore, as they are full of complex carbohydrates, fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals, keeping you fuller for longer, and satisfied, too. In Greece, sausage or bacon can be added - I have seen it with chorizo, too - but you really don’t need to add any meat to end up with the perfect Gigantes recipe, in my opinion. This is a wholesome and hearty vegan recipe, which is perfect served up with some feta and bread for a filling, healthy meal - a great one to have to hand if you’re inviting vegan guests over (minus the feta, of course!). It’s also a tastier (and much healthier) substitute for a tin of baked beans, so you can use it in the same way you would with those, too. Take your giant baked beans in tomato sauce and put them on top of a baked potato instead of the branded variety for an easy supper; you’ll be getting lots of extra veg and a lot less sugar than in the tinned stuff. Greek Gigantes are easily found in Greek food delis and in some supermarkets now, but butter beans will work for this recipe too.
Whether you have kids or not, I always want to find reasons to celebrate as the weather draws in, finding excuses for activities to bring the family together in the kitchen. These Halloween bakes are the perfect excuse. Following on from last week’s pumpkin chocolate chip bread recipe, these are a real commitment to the season! I tend to buy some little spooky figurines, or the cute googly eyes above, just to add that bit of Halloween fun for the kids for this bake. But they work perfectly well without, too, for a more grown-up treat! These Halloween pumpkin cupcakes channel the US tradition to use pumpkin in baking around this time of year. Using pumpkin in desserts just isn’t as common in the UK - I don’t know why, as it makes for a deliciously moist, flavoursome and seasonal addition to sweets and bakes! The warming spices make these cupcakes feel like little bites of pure autumn. They really can satisfy all season long; feel free to leave out the orange colouring and any fun Halloween decorative touches if you want a more stylish seasonal bake for the grown ups to enjoy - far beyond the 31st of October!
This crustless zucchini pie is the perfect lunch for a sunny day in the garden. The recipe originally comes from a friend in Crete. It’s both easy, and a great way to use up the glut of courgettes we seem to enjoy every July and August! Accompanied by a side salad (and maybe a chilled glass of white wine!), this courgette tart is so savoury and satisfying. The feta, parmesan and eggs give it that cheesey, almost quiche-like consistency, whilst the grated courgette/zucchini and the fresh herbs give it a real green vibrancy and fresh taste. Since it’s without a crust, it’s a really healthy, light option too. I’ve even been known to wrap the whole thing in tin foil and take it to the park for a picnic - and you can be sure that none ever comes back!
This pumpkin chocolate chip bread comes high on my list of healthy Halloween treats. This is a truly seasonal autumn recipe, that smells so good when it’s baking that I can barely bear to leave it in the oven long enough. It’s one of those breads that is really more of a cake - but I somehow feel slightly virtuous when enjoying it with a slather of butter and a cup of tea in the mid afternoon if I call it pumpkin bread! I love Halloween bakes; they’re a little break from the mountains of sugar and candy children seem to be fed around the 31st, but are still a really seasonal treat. This is one of the first recipes I’ll reach for, because it’s perfectly seasonal without being smothered in ghosts, ghouls and all things spooky! I’ll save those for the Halloween cupcakes recipe I’ll publish next week - so keep your eye out for those. The orange and spice combination means that this recipe shouldn’t be relegated solely to Halloween, either - it’s well worth its place on the afternoon tea table well through November and into December!
This pasta salad is such a simple dish that it barely needs a recipe; that’s part of the reason I love to make it! The second reason is that it gets some nice veggies into the kids’ diet without any fuss - they love pasta in every form. This is a great, easy supper dish. I often serve it with my wine-infused burger patties, for a hearty lunch or evening option. It’s also the perfect dish to feed to those guests who came round for coffee - and are still here hours later, when dinner is due! Cooking pasta is the easiest, quickest thing, and there is always enough in the fridge to help me rustle up this recipe. You might’ve noticed I use Greek yoghurt here, instead of mayonnaise. This really brings the calorie count back under control; it’s still an indulgent pasta, but the added protein from the Greek yoghurt and the decrease in calories make it easier to warrant cooking regularly. I tend to make a big batch of it, hoping to have it in the fridge to use as a side dish over the next two to three days - but my family often thwart this plan, demolishing it in one sitting!